Mario the Magic Plumber was captured by a big dragon named Bowser one thousand years ago. He used Imprisonment on him and made him sleep for one thousand years. Only the kiss of a real princess could break the curse. How can my group learn about the condition (kiss of a real princess)? I am more familiar with "Das schwarze Auge" and there is a spell called "Analysis" which tells you what kind of spell is laying on a person and how to break it. Is there something like this in D&D? Would detect magic be enough?

During the casting of the spell, in any of its versions, you can specify a condition that will cause the spell to end and release the target. The condition can be as specific or as elaborate as you choose, but the DM must agree that the condition is reasonable and has a likelihood of coming to pass. The conditions can be based on a creature’s name, identity, or deity but otherwise must be based on observable actions or qualities and not based on intangibles such as level, class, or hit points.

Edit: Thank you for all the answers, all got an upvote :). The heros will find Mario sleeping and by accident in an old building. They have no idea of his backstory or that he even existed. They have a wizard and a cleric with them,and it is important that Mario helps them to defeat the evil Wario. So they need to find out why Mario is sleeping and how wake him up. Thank you for your advise, nobody know about Mario anymore and I think I will go with the "Identify" spell, which tells everything about the casted Imprisonment spell.

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    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ A related/similar, but different question, basically the opposite: "Is there a way to break someone out of the imprisonment spell without conditions?" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the curse was to make Mario sleep for a thousand years, and that happened a thousand years ago, we don't really need a princess, do we? The curse should be ending of its own accord any day now... \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Apr 4 at 21:13

6 Answers 6


D&D 5e doesn't have a one-stop-shop for this

Starting from finding a person, the relevant player options tools (ie. spells etc.) are:

  • Detect magic which will tell that a spell is affecting Mario, and that it is an abjuration spell.

  • Identify can tell you that the spell affecting Mario is an imprisonment spell:

    If you instead touch a creature throughout the casting, you learn what spells, if any, are currently affecting it.

    There isn't anything in identify which tells you what mode the spell is in, so adding that would be DM allowance (which you may well want to do, to get the game to move forwards).

  • Knowing how a given spell works and that there might be a given condition for breaking it might require an Intelligence (Arcana) check

    Your Intelligence (Arcana) check measures your ability to recall lore about spells, [...]

    Player's Handbook, p. 177

  • Once you know there's an imprisonment spell and it is breakable by some unknown condition, you basically need to obtain information which has been lost as a result of time. There's no end to the methods by which one can obtain this, but starting a short-list:

    • If the story lives on, an Intelligence (History) check may be sufficient

    • If the story is recorded somewhere they can go there and find it. (This can very easily be a adventure hook for a dungeon or similar)

    • Then there are spells for obtaining information: legend lore is probably the best bet, as it gives information about any legendary items, places, or persons.

      Name or describe a person, place, or object. The spell brings to your mind a brief summary of the significant lore about the thing you named. The lore might consist of current tales, forgotten stories, or even secret lore that has never been widely known.

†: You (or your DM) are going to have to decide exactly how the imprisonment line:

Divination spells can't locate or perceive the target.

interacts with these Divination school spells which are finding out things about the target, but does not try to find it, or see it for you. Assuming you want the players to solve this it should be fairly easy to make it work.

‡: Note that identify requires you to touch the creature, which might be difficult with some forms of imprisonment. If they're just asleep somewhere this shouldn't be a problem.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If identify cannot perceive the target, is the target valid to be touched for casting the spell? Or, will the spell not perceive the target when the caster goes to touch the sleeping subject, and therefore not register a target of the spell? This is not a problem with legend lore, as that spell is capable of discovering lore about dead subjects, or places that no longer exist. That spell retrieves only legends. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "There isn't anything in identify which tells you what mode the spell is in". Well, the options are all fairly obvious; the question sounds like "Slumber" is being used, which can't be confused with the other options. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster The mode I were referring to (or where relevant for that) were whether a condition was set (which is optional). Identify doesn't tell you it is sleeping even if you can tell by looking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Identify isn't detecting the target, it's detecting the spell. Imprisonment doesn't say anything about divination magic being unable to identify the spell itself. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 16:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Oh. Bowser you say? The blackdragon with a sweet tooth for real princesses? Well yes, he was know to imprison people only let them escape when a princess was involved in the rescue. Not sure how that works, by common lore princesses are normally those being rescued :insert more gibberish here:" - pulled from some tome or guild of knowledge preservers or scroll or undead with modicrum of brain power from that area. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 17:33

Ask somebody

This presumes the group has a reason to be looking to break the imprisonment. If they don't even know the plumber was imprisoned then they have to find that out first, obviously.

The basic idea here is that while imprisonment stops divination magic from working on the target, a whole class of divination spells bypass this by instead just letting you talk to someone knowledgeable and thus not directly effecting the target.

Commune lets you play 20 questions with a God to find out the answer to something. The DM can arbitrarily decide it doesn't work because the gods don't know the answer, but otherwise you can, with enough time and castings, eventually get down to an answer on pretty much any question.

Contact other Plane works similar except you don't have to only ask Yes or No questions, though the DM is supposed to give only a one-word reply unless that's misleading. Still, I think "Q:How do we break the curse on Mario?" "A:Princess" Is pretty clear. Kisses are pretty obvious at that point.

Divination costs 25 gp instead of free, and you just get an answer to the question and it is the right one. It's only allowed to be a question about something you are doing in the next week, but presumably freeing Mario from the curse falls under that heading. "What's the condition to break that imprisonment spell we wanna break" should get you "You gotta get a true Princess to kiss him" unless you feel that's too close to 'gain or loss of a companion' in which case you should respond "You gotta become a true princess and then kiss him".

Don't 'find out', use One Size Fits All solutions

A 9th level Dispel Magic works all the time. Casting Imprisonment with the component used to create the original prison works all the time. Antimagic Field always suppresses the spell's effects while it persists, which is good enough to effectively end or seriously mitigate several methods of imprisonment. Freedom of Movement sometimes temporarily solves the problem. Remove Curse always works 100% of the time (the hedged prison version might be hard to find something to touch, though), but it's a 3rd level spell with hardly any rules so most GMs are gonna at least make it take a 9th level slot for this.


From a technical standpoint, identify can tell you what spell is in play, but it doesn't necessarily reveal what the end condition of the imprisonment is. How the party can determine the end condition is really up to the DM to decide, depending on how much focus she wants to put on finding out the condition as opposed to actually accomplishing it. An important factor to consider is whether or not the players should be able to fail to determine the condition, and what happens if they do.

Here are some options that I see immediately:

The DM could decide that simply identifying the spell also automatically allows the caster to interpret the condition that will break it, and just tells the players what's needed. Alternatively the DM could call for a check to get that extra information, but she needs to have a plan for how else they can get the information if the players fail that check.

The players could use divination spells like legend lore (their own, or cast by a friendly NPC) to look back into the past and find out what condition was set at the time of the casting, potentially letting the players even watch a cutscene of how things went down when the imprisonment was originally set. There's a side benefit here, in my opinion, that watching the events as they happened is a lot more engaging than just hearing "kiss of a princess" and moving on.

Side note: Technically, imprisonment blocks divination from perceiving the subject, but there are workarounds for that, like targeting an object that was present at the time but is not included in the imprisonment -- you might need to go on a quest to locate whatever hero, villain, monster, or vault now has Mario's magical hammer, and then use your spells on that -- but the DM could also choose to simply ignore that particular part of imprisonment and let the players get the information they need, just for the sake of getting on with the story.

The players might need to make social checks in a nearby community to learn the old tales about the hero frozen in stone, and those stories might include the breaking clause. Don't worry too much about how the storytellers originally found out -- it doesn't matter that much. Maybe Bowser just has a big mouth.

Ultimately, "the kiss of a princess" could be super-secret knowledge that requires a whole quest to acquire, or available to anyone who talks to the right old hermit, or even a common bedtime story for children that literally every person in town knows and will freely share.

It's entirely up to what the DM wants to accomplish.

  • \$\begingroup\$ side note: I don't think there are any spells (except for Wish, obviously) that let you look into the past (maybe Legend Lore, but that's more like Wikipedia instead of watching an archived live stream, so-to-speak). I can easily picture that allowing something like this would trivialize or severely impact other encounters as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ "In a technical sense, imprisonment blocks divination from targeting the subject" actually the spell doesn’t say that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:23
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Okay, fine, "perceiving" the subject. Realistically I think that clause is meant to say you can't use divination spells to FIND a concealed imprisoned creature, not that you can't use Legend Lore on it or whatever, but I don't want to get into a big argument over what "perceive" means. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster That's fair; I tend to be a bit looser with spells, especially from NPCs, and wouldn't have a problem with an oracle using her vaguely defined powers to show the PCs images of what happened in the past. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:39

There is the Identify spell which you can use to find out what spells are affecting an item or a creature, or if it is a magic item what kind of magic item it is or how to use it.

In this specific case however, the more appropriate spell would be Legend Lore, which can give you information about things of "legendary" importance; What is and isn’t legendary isn’t defined anywhere so it’s ultimately up to the DM, but if a dragon kidnapping a princess, and a hero coming to her rescue and defeating the monster isn’t legendary then I don’t know what would be.

Note that the Imprisonment spell prevents divination magic from “locating or perceiving the target”. This quite clearly prevents spells such as Scrying or Locate Creature from working; however it is less clear what the effects of Identify and Legend Lore would be; They are both Divination spells, but neither does actually have anything to do with “locating” or “perceiving” the imprisoned creature. The spell doesn’t prevent Divination spells from targeting the creature after all, as for example the Nondetection spell would. Legend Lore presumably couldn’t tell you where the creature is imprisoned as that is arguably locating it, but nothing about Imprisonment would prevent you from learning the way to free the imprisoned creature.

Aside from magic, it is entirely up to the specific situation. Perhaps the Hero in question kept a diary. Maybe it is a story told to children by this point and thus actually public knowledge. Maybe a creature who was witness to the event is still alive and you can interrogate her.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You may wish to hash out whether identify and legend lore still work given that "Divination spells can't locate or perceive the target." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 fair point \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @InterstellarProbe There are only two options that prevent you from touching the Imprisoned creature (3 if you count the version that traps it in a gem, but then you could just Identify the gem instead, 1 if you don’t count the impossible to reach Demiplane one), and the one specified here (Sleep) isn’t one of them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic if the Identify spell cannot perceive the target, what makes it a valid target to be touched? How do you avoid the situation where you cast the spell, touch the target, and the spell finds no perceived target? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @InterstellarProbe I see nothing about the Identify spell that requires the spell to perceive anything. Not even the spellcaster needs to see anything. The only requirement is that the caster of the spell touches the object or creature for the duration of the casting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 15:21

Does Mario dream?

Imprisonment has a range of 30 feet, and says (emphasis mine):

During the casting of the spell, in any of its versions, you can specify a condition that will cause the spell to end and release the target.

Presumably Mario knows what will end the curse because he heard Bowser specifying it when the spell was cast, even if the dragon wasn't gloating and monologuing for Mario about the genius of the curse before his imprisonment. The difficulty, then, is connecting with Mario's mind to learn this information.

Imprisonment further says that for the curse of:

Slumber. The target falls asleep and can't be awoken.

Other than not being able to awaken, nothing is said which distinguishes this sleep from normal sleep, so we can assume that at some point in his slumbers, Mario will be dreaming.

So, if we are able to tap in to Mario's dreams, and we are lucky, we may be able to at some point see a replay of Bowser specifying / explaining the means of ending the curse. In any other situation, we would be able to pick up on Mario's dreams with a mind-reading spell like detect thoughts. Unfortunately, most of these are divination school and are off limits because Imprisonment means that Mario can't be perceived by divination spells.

Fortunately, Knowledge domain clerics have a non-spell ability that will work even better:

At 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity to read a creature's thoughts. You can then use your access to the creature's mind to command it.

As an action, choose one creature that you can see within 60 feet of you. That creature must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature succeeds on the saving throw, you can't use this feature on it again until you finish a long rest.

If the creature fails its save, you can read its surface thoughts (those foremost in its mind, reflecting its current emotions and what it is actively thinking about) when it is within 60 feet of you. This effect lasts for 1 minute.

During that time, you can use your action to end this effect and cast the Suggestion spell on the creature without expending a spell slot. The target automatically fails its saving throw against the spell.

Assuming you can get Mario to fail his initial save at some point, you can then use the Suggestion ability to make the reasonable suggestion that he reflect and dream about anything related to how he was imprisoned and what might be required to release him. This ends your contact with his mind, however, so you will immediately need to use Channel Divinity again (at 6th level, you get two uses per long rest) to Read Thoughts again and review the dream you just prompted.


Does Legend Lore Fit The Bill?

Name or describe a person, place, or object. The spell brings to your mind a brief summary of the significant lore about the thing you named. The lore might consist of current tales, forgotten stories, or even secret lore that has never been widely known.

The only real limitation is that the target must be of "legendary" importance; your mileage may vary here, but I suspect the story of Mario the Magic Plumber fits the bill. If it's Mario the non-magical Plumber from upstate, maybe not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course, the spell is divination so it can't target someone affected by imprisonment. But otherwise this works well \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 20:33

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